In 2019, the NBA said to its players and coaches that it will not support or encourage criticism of the Chinese government. That position became clear came when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong-based pro-democracy protesters. Morey’s action prompted the NBA to immediately apologize for having offended Chinese sensibilities.
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement at the time.
These days, the organization’s top brass carefully avoids talking about China while some, such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, have outright defended doing business with the country. And the mainstream media doesn’t want to or isn’t interested in questioning the NBA on its relationship with China .
Earlier this week, former NBA player Royce White called out the media’s dereliction of duty when he publicly shared his “Free the Uyghurs” T-shirt following the opening game of the Big 3 basketball league.
“When you know a moment like this should be going viral but instead you get crickets from media outlets… that’s when you know you’re doing it the right way,” he tweeted.
When you know a moment like this should be going viral but instead you get crickets from media outlets… that’s when you know you’re doing it the right way. When it doesn’t suit anybody to talk about justice and freedom, that’s when you should talk about it. #FreeTheUyghurs pic.twitter.com/Gx2TkXWadS
— Royce White (@Highway_30) July 11, 2021
The World Uyghur Congress – an international advocacy group in support of the Uyghurs – publicly thanked Royce for his support of the increasingly persecuted minority while highlighting the NBA’s silence on the issue as it continues to amass Chinese dollars.
“Last year, @NBA apologized when its general manager, @dmorey voiced support for protests in #HongKong,” the organization tweeted. “This year, former @NBA player @Highway_30 highlights the #UyghurGenocide in a post-game interview. Thank you, we need more athletes like @Highway_30.”